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Via The Ladders : The truth about teamwork in the workplace

There’s a problem with teamwork and collaboration in the workplace.

Teamwork is supposed to encourage an environment where difficult tasks can be tackled through a collaborative effort. The function of teamwork essentially promotes workers to be open and solve problems together, breaking creative barriers with other employees based on each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

However, that’s not always the case.

Nearly 50% of employees who’ve worked in large teams admitted that it’s difficult due to different working styles, according to new research.

A survey conducted by Reflektive, a performance management platform, found that teamwork is the thorn in US workers’ side, with 46% saying they found it hard to contribute in a meaningful way with larger teams.

The study, which interviewed more than 1,000 US employees, found that more than a third of employees said alignment is the biggest challenge to successful business execution, meaning companies aren’t investing the right amount of time and resources to encourage collaboration.

“Business success today hinges on employees’ ability to work together in teams,” Reflektive CEO Greg Brown said in a statement. “And teams work best when their members and efforts are aligned. But without the proper tools, open communication, and goal visibility, it’s hard for teams to get and stay on the same page, track business progress and achieve optimal business outcomes.”

One expert recently said the four drivers for successful teamwork are open communication, respect, commitment, and adaptability. When a business instills those pillars, possibilities are endless — or so it seems.

How today’s workforce operates

While most respondents said they’ve worked in teams, a number of them said it wasn’t just with people from their own department.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents said their workplaces try to frequently work as a team, with 69% claiming their companies push company-wide goal alignment as being a key to success.

Cross-functional alignment is when everyone that works in the company knows and understands the company’s initiative and all resources are behind them. Brown told Ladders it’s a collaborative effort that can be very beneficial to companies.

“Its impact on employee productivity and engagement is significant,” Brown said.

While more than 35% of survey respondents said alignment is the biggest challenge to successful business execution, nailing alignment has its benefits. If companies invest time and resources to enable collaboration, it can lead to a more productive, effective, and engaging workplace, especially when it’s cross-functional alignment plus it had more than half of respondents (56%) excited to learn about a new team project via cross-functional alignment.

There’s also another benefit to cross-functional alignment.

“Employees in teamwork-driven organizations — or companies that promote and enable cross-functional collaboration — are almost 1.5x more likely to recommend their company to friends and family,” said Brown. “This is huge for a company’s employer brand.”

The secret is…

The best way to get the most out of your team is by providing them with feedback.

The survey found that feedback is an important part of team communication because improved team communication can enable improvement, retention, and stronger performance, according to the survey.

One expert said there are several ways to deliver constructive feedback, but one of the most important ways is to be clear and concise. Managers should find a way to humanize the conversation, which means be open to the other person and realize something externally could be impacting their overall performance. Managers could also avoid extremes like being too blunt or delicate.

Some ways to deliver constructive feedback comes by making it clear and concise. Managers should also humanize the conversation, which means we should consider the other person’s feelings and if there’s something extern impacting their overall performance. Other ways are to avoid extremes like being too blunt or delicate.

“Something managers can do to inspire their teams is to help define the outcome and what success looks like,” Brown said. “They should identify the ideal end state but give the team autonomy on how they want to get there. This helps the team feel they have more ownership of their work.”

Seventy-four percent of respondents agreed that teams that perform well share constructive feedback and commit to improvement, while 72% said constructive feedback helps their team execute on its business strategy more effectively.

While feedback can benefit in the short-term, it also has a positive effect on the future.

Researchers said employees who believe their companies are able to deliver feedback and goal-setting are nearly three times more likely to work at a company two years in the future.

Via Jostle : 7 ways to create a culture of teamwork in the workplace

We all have experience working in a team in the workplace, on the sports field, or in a social setting. From these experiences, we all know the hallmarks of poorly functioning teams – weak cohesion, poor communication, low trust, and missed milestones. Not to mention the lack of fun and celebration. On the flipside, there’s something to be said for a team operating in the “zone” – when work becomes effortless, supportive, constructive, and incredibly satisfying. So exactly why does teamwork matter and what can be done to make it happen?

Why is teamwork important in the workplace?

Exactly why is teamwork important in the workplace? A healthy team provides benefits for the individual, the organization, and society as a whole:

  • When an individual is seen as a contributing member of a team he/she feels appreciated and derives intangible benefits such as feelings of self-worth, happiness, and contentment. This provides stimulation, a sense of achievement, and intellectual learning.
  • The organization benefits from the high productivy that teamwork delivers. Healthy teams mean engaged employees and a vibrant workplace culture. It also means people are interacting more, which helps work get done efficiently and stimulates innovation.
  • Society gains a tremendous boost by having healthy people and corporations contributing their time and energy to the greater good through volunteerism, community events, and building supportive infrastructure.

Can we afford not to enable excellent, skilled teamwork in organizations today?

How to enable teamwork in the workplace

Teamwork does not happen on its own. It needs to be catalyzed, becoming part of workplace culture and integral to people, processes and culture. Once that happens, workplaces become more fun, productive, and creative.

Here are 7 ways to enable teamwork in the workplace. Brainstorming is not one of them.

  1. Divide up the work.
    Teamwork does not mean everyone does everything together. It requires getting organized and breaking each project down into its component parts. Then sorting out who will do what, according to their expertise, interest, and availability. A good project manager will help with this, but if not just head to the whiteboard as a group.
  2. Ask for help.
    Getting work done requires time to focus on your own task, and the option to draw on others when you need it. That’s teamwork. So when you need inspiration, expertise or support, ask for it.
  3. Work out loud.
    So your team is organized and you’re heads-down on your own task. Time to start working out loud. That’s critical for your team to stay connected as the project proceeds. Find quick ways to let those around you know what you’ve discovered, what mini-milestones you just passed, or what problem you’re struggling with. Overcome poor internal communications with a regular ‘standup’ meeting where everyone provides a quick informal update of where they are at can be a game changer here.
  4. Share a prototype.
    When you ask teammates for input in an open-ended way, don’t expect much. People are busy in the workplace and don’t know where to start. Instead share a draft or sketch — a prototype or outline of where you are headed. Don’t polish this; your colleagues will be much more comfortable building on, and suggesting alternatives to, things they know you’re not overly invested in. That’s collaborative teamwork at its best.
  5. Build in a review process.
    Review meetings can make a huge difference. They do two things — they bring a particular plan or design or report into clear focus, and they provide an ‘open season’ when it becomes polite to critique the team’s work. Encourage people to take a ‘devil’s advocate’ role and question things from all angles. Doing this at the concept stage will bring the team into detailed alignment and often catch requirements that would otherwise get missed.
  6. Rally to a common goal.
    If you want to be a team, you need to share a common goal. What is the grand goal you’re striving for? How does achieving the next milestone contribute to that? Where does each teammate’s contribution fit in? Knowing your work matters takes teamwork to the next level.
  7. Celebrate together.
    Appreciate the work of your teammates. Take time to say ‘thanks’ for small, specific contributions to the team effort. And when you do achieve a milestone towards your goal, take time to celebrate together.

At Jostle we spend a lot of time thinking about teams: how they interact, what impact they have, and what can encourage and facilitate the creation of highly engaged, effective teams. Our engaging intranet platform makes teamwork easy. Key teamwork enabling features include DISCUSSIONS (instant messaging), Shout-Outs (simple real time recognition), and NEWS (the go-to place to share stories and celebrate successes). We’ve designed our intranet to make workplaces better – which among other things, means happy, engaged individuals contributing to amazing team efforts.

Via PC Tech Magazine : How To Promote Cohesion in the Workplace Through Team Building

When you want your team to work better together, or you have a new group of people who need to get to know one another before they can really bond and work cohesively, there are a number of different ways you can help them. Offering team building in all its different forms will give them a better idea of the people they are working with, but it will also help them to realize what they are capable of themselves, plus you can see what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are, and ensure that you use that information to your company’s advantage when giving people work to do.

Here are some of the ways that you can promote cohesion in the workplace through team building.

The Chance To Network

Everyone is busy at work, and that doesn’t leave a lot of time to really get to know your work colleagues as well as you might like to. Working with people you genuinely like helps people work harder, and gives them a good reason to come to work each day, because they are going to see their friends.

Team building that offers your employees the chance to get to know the people they work with on a more personal level, and perhaps even engage with people they simply haven’t had the opportunity to talk to before, especially if you tend to all work remotely, can make them feel happier in their work. Whatever you are doing, from ice skating to having a cook off to trying escape rooms in Cincinnati or even crafting together, as long as it gets you away from work, can be perfect for team bonding and team building.

Understand Teamwork

Although sometimes lone working is what is required, it is also just as likely that teamwork will be needed on some projects. If people aren’t used to working with others, this can be difficult, make work harder than it needs to be, and delay the completion of the project, which could even make it go over budget. By sending your employees on a team building day, you can ensure that they get to know how to work better in a team. Not only that, but they will get a better understanding of what each individual is capable of, making delegating tasks more achievable.

Healthy Competition

Team building activities can work the other way as well if you want them to. Rather than bringing a team together, you can take a cohesive team and pit them against one another. Their bond will be strong enough to withstand this so that their teamworking abilities do not suffer, but it is useful to give everyone the chance to be themselves and to try to be the best. This encourages healthy competition which can give your business the edge, and ensure that the work produced is always excellent.

Something Different

Sometimes cohesion within the workplace can suffer because everyone is doing the same thing, day in, day out. They can become bored, even carrying out some tasks automatically without thinking. This means that they don’t really interact with one another, or they become so used to being with the same people that they aren’t interested in finding out any more about them.

Taking your team out of the office and asking them to do something interesting and fun can put the spark back into their working lives, showing them that there is always more to learn and that the people they are working with are fascinating individuals.

Via Grammarly : How to Collaborate Effectively at Work (and Why You Should Care)

“No man is an island,” the English poet John Donne once wrote. Nearly 400 years later, if you’re into creative, ambitious work, that sentiment is truer than ever—collaboration is often essential.

It also might not feel like your strong suit. Maybe you feel weird without your headphones in and would much rather work alone. But even then, chances are your efforts are part of a greater whole that hinges on your abilities as a collaborator to succeed—so you might as well speak up.

It’s an area where we can all stand to improve, and Grammarly has you covered. Here are six tips to help you become a better collaborator.

What is collaboration, anyway?

Working in collaboration means everyone can contribute ideas—so it’s different from the kind of teamwork where a group marches in unified lockstep to realize one person’s plan or goal. Collaborating means hearing people out, melding different ideas together, and building toward a shared objective.

Put another way, if you’re not steadily communicating about what you’re trying to accomplish and how best to go about it, you’re not really collaborating.

Part of communicating is listening and understanding.

Collaboration doesn’t work if only one person does all the talking. Fostering a collaborative space means making room for other people to share their ideas—even the shy ones. (That said, making a point of giving a quiet person the floor doesn’t help much if they feel suddenly called on like a daydreamer who zoned out in algebra class.)

Part of getting people to open up and share valuable ideas is helping them feel like they’ll be heard. That means being patient and generous—a facilitator, not an autocrat.

Correct: That’s an interesting idea. How do you see it fitting into this project?

Incorrect: You already know that idea is unrealistic, so just hush.

Also, if you are one of the quieter ones present for a collaborative discussion, recognize that you’re in the room to participate, not just observe. That’s not always the case in life—and yes, people who think all meetings should be collaborative are insufferable—but in this case, it’s good to show you’re engaged by saying what you’re thinking.

Keep the conversation open ended.

One of the challenges of the collaborative process is getting past the blue sky stage where people throw out ideas, and onto distilling the results into an actionable plan with defined deliverables. When you’re trying to clarify what you’ll actually be doing, it helps to ask questions rather than issue decrees, like so:

Correct: What problem are we trying to solve?

Incorrect: Our next iteration just needs to look more like the competition’s.

Correct: What timeframe will it take to achieve meaningful progress?

Incorrect: I need this done and dusted before Thursday’s board meeting.

A useful strategy to get people on the same page is to try repeating their points back in your own words. This helps crystallize the takeaways and can reveal any discrepancies or misunderstandings that need to be addressed early on. It can also be worthwhile to capture key ideas on a whiteboard, sticky notes, or a shared screen.

Know when to ask for help—and be delicate when offering it.

One of the joys of being a collaborator is you don’t have to have all the answers. A truly collaborative endeavor is one where it’s okay to take risks—and to go to your colleagues when you need guidance. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it shows that you’re interested in getting better at something, have recognized someone else’s skill, and feel secure enough to take some time out for your edification.

Likewise, you want other people to feel at ease getting help from you, not forced, as in this example:

Incorrect: You’re doing it wrong. Here, let me show you how an adult does it.

Correct: I noticed you’ve been working on that part for a while. Let me know if I can help out, okay?

Don’t make your collaboration messier than necessary.

Over the course of your project, you and your collaborators will likely find things to disagree about. It’s worth remembering there’s value in drawing from perspectives—even if only a fraction of the insights this process yields will be perfect.

For the rest, be diplomatic. Know when to hold your tongue. Keep in mind that kindness, while not always effortless, is rarely a waste of energy.

At some point, someone will probably have to say “no,” or at least “not right now.” And someone else will have to live with that. This is part of what separates a collaborative process that sets and achieves its goals from an endless digression on things people wish would happen at some point. In other words, while it might not always feel like it, it’s often a good thing.

When you’re done, share credit—and say thank you.

There is no quicker way to exclude yourself from a group’s future collaborative endeavors than to claim all the credit and glory for yourself. It’s simply not a good look when you could instead be graciously acknowledging the contributions of your peers and bringing donuts.

Lastly, take a moment to reflect on what you learned and what you hope to improve going forward. Such lessons may come in handy the next time you’re called upon to collaborate.

Via DNA : Time to break silos and join hands at workplace

Only 13% of employees across organisations can work in teams without being interrupted (and complete projects on time), says an employee-focused research study.

Is this true? In an era when team sizes are shrinking and remote/flexi working is gaining in prominence, where does the aura attached towards working in teams now stand? Does it help to work individually, rather than in teams to minimise distractions and accelerate project deliveries?

“Not really,” say HR experts. According to Praveen Rawal, managing director, Steelcase India and Southeast Asia, the evolution from ‘I’ to ‘We’ at work is going to be more significant for achieving organisational goals in 2018.

Hamsaz Vasunia, Head HR, DCB Bank, says ‘teamwork’ is about how different teams come together to service the end customer. “Today, customers want the best solution in the shortest possible time. To make this happen, different individuals have to work seamlessly without letting the baton fall. In this digital world, where a new product has to be launched in the market before the competition, every employee has to work in sync to meet the deadline. For any project to be successful, people with different skill-sets are required to complement each other. They can support each other, energise one another and maximise the overall output.”

According to Thammaiah BN, managing director, Kelly Services India, working in a team creates healthy competition amongst employees and members are able to divide workloads and pressure amongst themselves. “Thus, every individual can be allocated with responsibilities based on their specialisation.”

But beyond the multiple advantages that teamwork brings in for the organisation and its employees, there do exist distractions that cause impediments in the pathway towards team achievements. Conflicts, ego and insecurities often exist within teams that hinder fruitful collaboration. Moreover, research at the University of California points out that once a distraction occurs, it can take as much as 23 minutes for the mind to return to the task at hand.

Vivek Prabhakar, co-founder of Chumbak, says that employees get distracted only when the team gets distracted, “and each person starts working in a different direction. If the team is focused, chances of distraction are minimal. High productivity is all about a combination of single-minded focus on individual tasks, as well as a lot of collaboration to ensure that all team members are on the same track.”

Although togetherness at work is vital for value creation, in excess, it’s a killer, says Rawal. He believes that there needs to be a process wherein workers come together as a group to develop a shared point of view, and then break apart to take the next steps. “This can be achieved through a provision of spaces. Collaboration has caused a privacy crisis, especially in Indian offices where real estate is a constraint,” says Rawal. Experts note that in many companies, there is a high emphasis on open spaces and not enough on private spaces. “In India, which has a collectivist culture, organisations need to optimize real estate more to provide visual, acoustical and territorial privacy options,” says Rawal.

Virtual Working and Teamwork

With teams being agile and employees working virtually, promoting team cohesiveness assumes even greater importance. According to Thammaiah, with video collaboration tools, opportunities for interaction with remote workers can be created. “Social events and team-building exercises will make employees feel part of a team and not isolated.”

To promote cohesiveness, experts say organisations should appreciate teamwork that has achieved common goals. Secondly, conflict resolution between employees by the organisation at the earliest is necessary to ensure productivity remains protected.

Deodutta Kurane, group president, human capital management, Yes Bank, says that building teams that deliver is a leadership responsibility. “A leader must focus on training team ( to collaborate), engaging (by conducting milestone reviews and realigning tasks basis group performance), attracting the right mix of skills and personalities, and motivating teams and developing a shared mindset amongst members. This ensures that teams remain committed to delivering quality in a timely manner.”

Furthermore, employees also have a role in being good team players. Vasunia says first and foremost, individuals should keep their ego in check. “They should respect each other’s views, be inclusive, participate in team events and personally interact more while emailing less.”